Posts Tagged ‘Order Management’

Managing Inventory & Order Fulfillment – Exciting, No. Necessary, Yes!

Friday, September 5th, 2014

inventory managementPosted by:  Megan Castillo 

Managing inventory and order fulfillment isn’t the most exciting part of becoming an eCommerce merchant, but it can make or break a web store’s operations. If you’re not managing inventory efficiently, you risk tying up funds in excess inventory or worse -losing out on a sale due to a stock out situation and ultimately letting your customers down. When done well, efficient inventory and order management can help streamline your business processes, optimizing your cash flow and improving your bottom line.

Efficient & Intelligent Inventory Management

Managing inventory is a delicate balancing act for businesses of all sizes, small and large. If you have too much invested in inventory in stock, you’ll have less money to run the rest of your business.  If you have too little on-hand, you could lose out on sales and risk losing potential customers. The tips below offer some advice on how to find that happy balance.

  • Determining Inventory Amounts – To help you determine the right amount of inventory to keep on-hand it’s important to carefully track sales, monitor trends and analyze your performance over the past few years to help you more accurately forecast inventory needs relative to sales cycles.  Other things to consider include what sells and what doesn’t, what items are more seasonal than others, and what the inventory turn is on your most important products (the time it takes to sell that product and restock it).
  • Get Your (Ware)house In Order – You have to get your house in order, or in this case your warehouse, in order to run a smooth operation. Making sure your products are stocked efficiently and that you have clear guidelines on how to pick/pack/ship items will ensure items get shipped quickly and tracked accurately.
  • Make Sure Marketing & Operations Are Aligned – When determining your stock levels it’s also important to make sure your purchasing and operations teams are aware of the promotional calendar marketing has in place. For example, if marketing is running a promotion next week or next month, you may need to order and stock more of a particular item(s) to meet the anticipated demand.
  • Have Backup Vendors – As a customer, there’s nothing more disappointing than to place an order and then later find out it’s been put on backorder because the item isn’t in stock! As the merchant you can take preventive steps to avoid this situation by having a backup vendor as your ‘go-to’ if your primary vendor runs out of stock.  You may not have a backup for every product you sell, but for those you consider to be the ‘hot sellers’, whether all the time or during peak seasons, it would be beneficial to have a backup vendor.
  • Get Help! – The best way to ensure you manage your inventory and order fulfillment processes efficiently is to automate the process using an inventory and order management software solution.  With our inventory and order management solutions for small to mid-sized businesses you can manage your inventory, orders, and returns across multiple sales channels, send purchase orders to suppliers, process shipments including drop ship items, produce management level reporting, and more.  Our solutions provide you with the tools to streamline your operations by automating your processes.  In addition, our solutions seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks, the preferred accounting solution choice of small to mid-sized retailers.

Sign Up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today! 

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Top 5 Features To Look For In An Inventory Management Solution

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo 

Are you having trouble managing your inventory?  Have you run into the dreaded ‘out of stock’ situation more than you’d like?  Or on the flip side, do you have so much excess inventory on-hand that it’s affecting your profit margins?

If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to start looking into an inventory management solution to help you get your order and inventory processes under control.  But with all the options available today, how do you know which solution will work best for you and your business?  And what features should you be looking for?

Top 5 Features To Look For In An Inventory Management Solution:

At Dydacomp, we’ve been helping retailers solve their inventory issues for over 25 years, providing small business inventory and order management solutions to a variety of industries. Our experience has been gained from helping thousands of retailers over the years; giving us insight into the features retailers need, and want, in an inventory management solution.  The top 5 features retailers need include:

  1. Basic Inventory Control
        – What this means is having a systematic way to truly ‘manage’ and control your inventory across all of your sales channels.  Very often we find that new businesses work with spreadsheet(s) where formulas can break, and a lot of manual effort is required to keep inventory on track. For them, using a spreadsheet is the first level of business automation.  These ‘first-time automators’, as we refer to them, may be growing rapidly and need a better, more efficient way to manage their current business, and position themselves for future growth.  They’re not always aware of the systems that are out there that are tailor-made to address their growing needs
  2. Integration with Sales Channel
        – Adding sales channels or marketplaces is a fast and effective way to grow your business, if you have the tools to manage them successfully. Having the ability to bring orders from all channels into one solution, where you can process the orders, manage the inventory, and publish updated ‘available to sell’ levels back to your sales channels, ensures you don’t oversell a low inventory level product.  It also saves you time by centralizing your workflow and eliminating the need to update various systems.  With an effective order management solution, inventory and order updates would be automatically published back to all sales channels.
  3. Barcoding & Scanning
        – Increasing the number of daily orders you receive is exciting, but it can also lead to bottlenecks if you’re not positioned to process and fulfill those orders efficiently. Retailers who are processing a higher volume of orders look to streamline their processes even more by implementing barcoding and scanning at the pick/pack/ship stages.
  4. Accounting Integration
        – While an accounting system can’t do the work of a specialized order an inventory management system, it is necessary to run a successful business. Having a direct integration to your accounting package from an order and inventory management system makes all the difference.  It enables you to easily post to your General Ledger account and keep track of all your other business expenses outside of inventory.
  5. Support For Kits (aka Bundled Products; kitting)
        – Many retailers have added kits or bundles to their product mix, meaning the product for sale is not a single item, but a combination of products sold as a kit or bundle such as a gift basket or a collection of items in a set.  Managing these types of products is more complex from an inventory standpoint. With an inventory management solution that supports kitted products, you can see how many kits can be assembled, what ‘kit’ items need to be re-ordered, etc.

If you think you can benefit from implementing a solution with the features listed above, give us a call.  Or Sign Up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions.

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Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo

At Dydacomp, we’ve been providing retailers with inventory and order management software solutions for over 25 years. We’ve been successful for so long because we totally get it.  Dydacomp was founded by retailers to provide software for retailers.  We understand the challenges you face because we’ve been there ourselves.

Working with thousands of retailers over the years has given us good insight into the buying trends as well as the top reasons retailers seek an inventory management solution. I recently came across an article by Software Advice, a website that researches and reviews inventory management software, which supports our findings.  Highlighted below are some of those key buying trends for 2014 and what retailers are looking for in an inventory management solution.

Buyer Profile

Very often the retailers we speak with are evaluating an inventory management solution for the first time.  They are what we refer to as ‘first-time automators’, those who are either running their business using manual methods such as maintaining spreadsheets, or using an accounting program that wasn’t designed to manage inventory and requires a lot of manual intervention. They realize the need to automate their order and inventory processes to not only alleviate the headaches and inaccuracies associated with the manual efforts, but to position themselves to continually grow their business.

According to Software Advice, 95% of the prospective buyers they spoke with were also first-time buyers.  Of that, 36% were using accounting software to manage their inventory, while 35% were using Excel or another spreadsheet method.  Another 11% were using what they called “manual methods”, which often referred to the good old pen and paper method.  Those buyers using any of the above methods are the kinds of people we speak to daily who love the fact that their business is growing, but hate the headaches this growth brings if they don’t have the proper systems in place.  They are looking to ease these pains so they can enjoy their success!

 

Buyers’ Current Inventory Management Methods

Buyers-Current-Inventory-Management-Methods

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Do you fit into this category?  If so, it may be time to start reviewing your options.  Neither spreadsheets nor accounting software were designed to manage inventory and will only support your business growth to a certain extent.  You don’t want to stand in the way of your own success, right?  As a savvy business owner, you know there’s a better solution out there.   You just may not have the time to explore your options – because you’re too busy reconciling and correcting spreadsheet errors – sound familiar!

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to explore your options.  I guarantee you’ll gain that time, and more, back in the future once you start automating and streamlining your processes.

Top Requested Inventory Management Features

So what features are buyers looking for?  For most, it starts with basic inventory control.  By that I mean having a systematic way to truly ‘manage’ and control your inventory across all your sales channels.   Being able to rely on a solution to do the work for you, and rest assured the calculations are correct, rather than working in spreadsheets where your formulas can break and cause an inventory nightmare.

Those running a slightly more complex organization from an inventory standpoint are in search of a solution with more advanced features like: bar coding and scanning, demand forecasting, drop shipping, lot tracking and kitting.  And because there is still a need for an accounting solution to complement your inventory management solution, ideally retailers would like to find two of the best solutions that can seamlessly integrate with each other.  Again, it’s not that you don’t need an accounting solution, it’s just that an accounting solution was meant to do just that, manage your finances, and not manage and track inventory.  It’s not unlike using an electrician to fix a plumbing problem.  Yes they are both professionals, but it’s not the electrician’s specialty.  In this case, you’re using a piece of software that wasn’t designed to manage your inventory, and managing inventory is an integral part of a retailer’s business.

Since many small to mid-size retailers use QuickBooks for accounting, a direct integration to QuickBooks is an attractive feature to offer.  This enables retailers to easily post to their General Ledger account and keep track of all their other business expenses outside of inventory.

 

Top-Requested Inventory Management Features
http://blog.dydacomp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Top-Requested-Inventory-Management-Features

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

Retailers’ Reasons For Evaluating Inventory Management Solutions

So why are retailers evaluating inventory management solutions? What’s pushing these first-time automators to invest in their back office operations? Most of the reasons go hand-in-hand and all go back to the fact that using spreadsheets or accounting solutions to perform tasks they weren’t designed to do just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

In the poll done by Software Advice, 35% of the prospective retail software buyers they spoke with said they were looking for a more modern solution for their inventory management needs.  Essentially, they are looking for an actual software solution designed to handle inventory needs rather than using spreadsheets, etc. The other reasons found also have to do with using a solution that wasn’t designed for inventory management control – having limited functionality, inability to support company growth and lacking the ability to automate business processes.

Automation is one of the top reasons we find retailers reaching out to us. Our solutions provide retailers with the ability to automate both inventory and order processes to not only streamline their operations, but free up time to focus on strategy efforts – like how to grow their business!  The streamlining of their processes is essential to support their current and future growth.  With manual processes in place, there tends to be a lot of bottlenecks that occur as business takes off, which can actually hinder your growth.

 

Buyers’ Reasons for Evaluating Inventory Management Software
Buyers-Reasons-for-Evaluating-Inventory-Management-Software

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, there is one common goal in implementing a solution for the first time, or a replacement solution – finding a way to run your business better to not only manage current growth, but allow for the ability to support continued growth in the future!

So where do you fit in all of this?  If you’re in that category of retailers who are still using spreadsheets or non order and inventory specific solutions to run your business, there’s no time like the present to start exploring your options.  Like I said earlier, we’ve helped thousands of retailers to improve their processes and grow their business, and we’re here to help you too!  See for yourself, sign up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today.

 

 

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IRCE 2014 Recap & 4 Key Take-Aways

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Dydacomp participated as a sponsor in recent 2014 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. This year IRCE celebrated its 10th year as the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition and our staff had a fantastic experience at the show!

We spoke with many retailers, fulfillment, distribution, and wholesale businesses of various sizes who were eager to discuss the latest developments in internet retail. Our days at the conference were filled with informative meetings and great conversations about the challenges and opportunities businesses face when managing their continued growth.

So what was the buzz at this year’s show? Here are our top 4 key take-aways from IRCE 2014:

irce

#4 Opportunities abound for best-in-class inventory and order management software solutions with multichannel retailers. At IRCE we heard how order and inventory management automation, efficiency, and insight have delivered real value to the bottom line of many multichannel sellers. These businesses shared experiences of how their multichannel operations continue to expand the needs emanating from their ‘back office silos’. The successful businesses view order and inventory management operations as essential solutions that drive their business’ ability to compete and win from the point in which a customer engages with them through their shopping cart to the receipt of their orders at their door, and beyond.

#3 The Magento Community fully embraced a tightly integrated cloud-based OMS solution. Visitors to Dydacomp’s booth at IRCE were excited to experience Freestyle Commerce first-hand! Freestyle is Dydacomp’s latest innovation—a cloud based online inventory and order management system that complements Magento eCommerce platforms and Amazon. Those who had the chance to see Freestyle in action were quickly delighted with the benefits its tight integration provided, including:

• Unification of the workflows for ALL Magento and Amazon sales channels orders into a single stream for expedited pick, pack, ship and bill processing.

• Complete visibility into on-hand stock levels, and the tasks involved with purchasing, receiving and updating new inventory counts across sales channels; combined with the ability to manage drop ship supplier operations.

• Connected customer insight and business intelligence tools to help make more informed business decisions and help manage the growth of businesses to their full potential.

#2 SMB retailers focus on drop shipping to drive efficiencies and cost savings. For many start-up and established small to medium-sized (SMB) growing businesses drop shipping was a hot topic. Drop shipping provides a way for savvy business owners to aggressively expand their product offerings without incurring the upfront costs of purchasing new inventory or having to directly manage the pick, pack and ship process for those orders. To further support these businesses, we were able to demonstrate how easy it was to include drop shipping operations into their order management mix through our solutions to meet their business objectives and growth goals without the overhead costs of maintaining inventory locally.

#1 Experience matters when it comes to technology solution providers. Many SMB retailers who sought us out at IRCE were looking for a solution provider that could relate to their specific business needs and who had the experience and the know-how to take businesses like theirs to the next level of success. We were proud to share our own personal success story. Many were surprised to learn that Dydacomp is a technology company that was started by retailers with solutions for retailers. Today, thousands of multichannel merchants rely on our Freestyle Commerce™ and Multichannel Order Manager (M.O.M.®) solutions to automate their retail back office operations and drive business growth. In total, our clients collectively generate nearly 10 million in gross merchandise sales every day! So how can we help you?

We hope to see you at next year’s IRCE but don’t wait until then to get started!

For additional information on operational improvements through automating order management, read this eBook entitled “Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies.”

 

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Is it Time for an Order Management System?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dydacomp_compterImageby Roxanne Brown, CQA – Consulting 4 Quickbooks


My firm has worked with hundreds of eCommerce clients over the years and many have started the conversation with “My company has really taken off and my current order fulfillment processes just aren’t cutting it anymore; what are my options?

Many of the business owners we’ve worked with started out using Quicken or QuickBooks, coupled with Excel to track and manage their inventory, orders, customers, etc.  While this approach may be acceptable when you first start out, it can quickly turn into an inhibitor of the growth for your company.

As your business grows, copying and pasting information from one system to another and constantly updating Excel (no matter how good you are at it) must be replaced with better and more efficient processes.  This is when we get the calls, asking “there must be a better way, what are my options?” – and the answer is automation!

While no two eCommerce businesses are exactly alike, they all follow the same basic fulfillment processes and can benefit from automating these tasks.  Automation is king; it’s what will allow you to take you time away from the time consuming task of copying and pasting so you may can focus on really running and growing your business to the level you know it can achieve.

The first step in achieving business process automation is to switch from Excel or Quicken to QuickBooks; however that’s just the beginning. QuickBooks (or whatever accounting system you use) is designed to handle the accounting portion of your business; it’s really not meant to handle everything else needed to run an eCommerce business. What you really should consider implementing is an inventory and order management system (OMS).  This type of implementation can strike fear in the heart of a business owner as they imagine the challenges of adding and changing many of their business processes – therefore many put this decision off much longer than they probably should have.

I won’t lie and say the transition is easy; however I will tell you that it’s well worth the time and effort to make the change.  No one has been sorry they made the decision to automate their business processes and increase productivity.  Many of the business owners we’ve worked with are shocked at how much they can now accomplish in a day, without adding employees.  I’ve seen businesses double and triple revenue in a year or less, solely because a good order management system was deployed!

When reviewing order management systems there are many things to consider beyond whatever your biggest pain point might be at the moment.  Inventory and order management is just the beginning; there are a lot of additional factors to consider as you take your business to the next level.

  • How many sales channels are you currently on?  Do you plan to add any in the near future?
  • Are you maintaining 100% of your inventory, or do you also drop ship?
  • How can you easily manage the ordering and receiving of products?
  • How can you automate your drop ship processes?
  • You MUST be PCI compliant.  If you’re not, you’re running a risk your business can’t afford.
  • How many states are you required to collect sales tax?
  • How many warehouse locations or fulfillment centers are in the mix?
  • What type of selling tools would make running your business more streamlined; and thus more profitable?
  • Fraud protection is key; what tools are available to reduce your risk?
  • How can you provide top-notch customer service?
  • The order management system needs to integrate properly with your accounting system.

Deploying a good order management system will make it possible to do all of the above and SO much more.  So, are you ready to take your business to the next level?

For additional information on the benefits of automating order, inventory and customer management, read this real-world case study about a luxury bedding etailer.  And for more insight on QuickBooks® and eCommerce Training & Integration check out the Consulting 4 QuickBooks blog here.

 

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Use Customer Profile Data to Capitalize on the 80/20 Rule

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule that states 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  That 20% is definitely a group worth cultivating to keep them engaged.  The more you know about this customer segment the better for your business.

Most retailers capture basic information about their most active customers but that may not be enough to establish a good connection to this audience.  To develop relationship longevity requires that you develop an intimate knowledge of the customer that goes beyond their name, email address and order history.  In this age of digital marketing, you need to connect on a broader level that includes social media, sales channel preferences and buying habits. Having a more complete customer profile will enable you to design more relevant, timely and targeted campaigns and communications to fully engage your top shoppers.

Go beyond the standard customer order management data to include:

  • Birthday
  • Anniversary
  • Family size and make up
  • Favorite color/fragrance, etc.
  • Preferred shopping method
  • Work information, if applicable
  • Detailed purchase history

Also try to capture:

  • What they are saying about you – social media
  • What they like – social media can also provide this information
  • What they are purchasing – favorite items, for self or for gifts
  • When they are shopping – how frequently, time of day, day of the week
  • How they are shopping – website, mobile app, brick and mortar store

All channels need to be integrated to capture relevant data both online and offline that you can easily tap into to develop meaningful communication streams to attract customers.  You need an order management solution that can collect detailed customer information along with order details that you can extract and utilize to keep your 20% coming back.  Increasing customer engagement levels through relevant promotions to this target group can drive revenues and enhance your bottom line.

For information about making sure your back office systems keep up with your shoppers’ demands, access our latest eBook: Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies – 7 Retail Operational Improvements That Make A Difference

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How Were Holiday Sales? With Too Much Data, It’s Hard to Tell.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp-Order-Management

The data has been collected but the results are confusing.  How did the 2013 holiday season sales perform overall?  Researchers seem to be divided on the numbers and what they mean to retailers.  There’s no simple answer to the big question, “was 2013 a good holiday season for retailers?” Shopper Trak and the National Retail Federation (NRF) were divided in the first seasonal measure of Black Friday Sales.  Shopper Trak reported a 2.3% gain while the NRF reported a 3.9% loss over 2012. The many reports and the varied metrics used to assess holiday sales have made the holiday season of 2013 hard to call.

MasterCard publishes a credit card purchases report; Shopper Trak uses data from its Shopper counting devices combined with cash register transaction information.  The NRF hires a polling firm to ask consumers about their spending then makes estimates based on the responses. Online sales, reported as a separate category, contributed to the confusion. comScore which tracks eCommerce figures, reported a 10% increase in online sales; however they only includes purchases made from desktop computers, not mobile devices.  Retail analysts warn that the real score for the season can’t be given in a single number – it is best to look for a separate scorecard for each retailer.  Understandably, retailers play it close to the vest, remaining positive without sharing detailed information.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm maintains that the only holiday score that matters to retailers are their margins and whether they come out of the holiday season profitably.  This is certainly true for small to medium-sized eCommerce retailers as they sort out their results. The big picture data may be helpful as a comparison to industry averages, but the only true and meaningful measure is how your business has performed.

As you review your 2013 holiday season results, determine where you succeeded and where you could improve.  Were you visible in places where your shoppers could easily find and interact with you?  Did you create the best possible shopping experience and did you handle all orders effectively and efficiently?  Were there any bottlenecks in your back office operations that you could be improved this year.  It’s worth the time to reflect on these questions now – it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2014 holiday season.

For additional perspectives behind keeping the retail forecast score, click here to read this article by NorthJersey.com’s Senior Writer, Joan Verdon.

 

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Technology Enables Retailers to Help Customers Fulfill New Year’s Resolutions

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

The most popular New Year’s resolutions continue to center around making better food choices and leading a healthier lifestyle.  People who strive to be as healthy as possible increasingly turn to dietary supplements and nutraceuticals to achieve their desired results and fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. With fast and inexpensive highly processed food readily available, it is not always easy to meet daily nutritional needs with the foods that we eat which fuels the continued growth in the multi-billion dollar nutraceutical market.

The best sources of recommended nutrients are found in a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables and fresh, whole foods. We know making healthy and optimal food choices is not always easy; even people that try to eat a well-balanced diet can often miss essential nutrients and that is where dietary supplements and nutraceuticals can be beneficial.

According to a Nutraceuticals Industry Overview published by NewsMedical.net, nearly two-thirds of the American population takes at least one type of nutraceutical health product in an attempt to accomplish desirable therapeutic outcomes with reduced side effects. In RNCOS’ latest research study, “US Nutraceuticals Market Forecast to 2017,” RNCOS analysts estimate the market reaching $75.3 billion in 2017; growing at a CAGR of nearly 6% during 2013-2017. The market growth is driven by the aging Baby Boomer population which is fueling the focus on health and wellness and Generation X concerns about natural, organic and green products.  Both of these have helped to increase the consumption of dietary supplements and have propelled the functional food and beverages market as well.

With favorable demographics and an increase in online consumer spending, the nutraceuticals market offers immense opportunities for eCommerce retailers. It is increasingly important for nutraceuticals retailers to be visible across multiple sales channels to reach new and repeat customers. Technology has enabled nutraceuticals etailers to offer detailed online merchandise descriptions, video explanations and offer valuable online shopping assistance to help shoppers navigate the variety of product choices available and the benefits that each product has been developed to deliver.

Managing a nutraceuticals eCommerce platform is no easy task. Utilizing the appropriate technology tools to help manage the gaps between the front-end customer experience and the back-end merchant experience is critical for success. An inventory and order management solution enables you to gain visibility and bridge the divides between your eCommerce store and back office to stay on top of inventory and order processing across multiple sales channels, keeping customers supplied and satisfied, which will keep them coming back.

A competitive nutraceuticals market challenges retailers to differentiate themselves through effectiveness, price, supply and packaging. As we enter a very busy season and year of growth for the nutraceuticals market, having an automated solution to address order processing, inventory management and customer service enables etailers to efficiently handle increasing order volume and provide personal customer service while streamlining and automating key back office processes all leading to increased productivity and profitability.

An order management system facilitates the integration of business processes from shopping cart integration, selling tools, Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and gift card redemption to CRM, fraud protection, inventory management, payment integration, order fulfillment, tracking and logistics across all sales channels.  When these diverse processes work together, it simplifies day-to-day operations, leaving nutraceutical retailers with more time to connect with customers, source new products and innovations, develop strategic marketing promotions and keep their business healthy.

Download the eBook Growing Your Health and Wellness Business – Best Practices for Nutraceutical Retailers.

To access the latest RNCOS Study, US Nutraceuticals Market Forecast to 2017, click here. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-nutraceuticals-market-forecast-to-2017-212161321.html

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How Videos Can Help You Grow Your eCommerce Business

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, Vice President, Marketing

Have you ever viewed a video on another company’s website and thought, “this video does a good job of talking about the company and its products?  I wish we had one.” Companies are using short, concise and visually appealing videos to explain not only their products and services, but to convey who they are.  They’re called ‘explainer videos’ and they provide information to customers and potential customers so that they understand what the company is all about and why they should do business with them.

Here’s an example of a video that we created to explain who Dydacomp is and to explain the benefits of order management systems.  It’s just over a minute, yet it captures what we do and why that’s important to the retailers who we serve.

We chose to work with a video design agency to capture our messages in an animated format.  Many of our retail clients are producing their own videos to explain the products they’re selling through their eCommerce store.  A video doesn’t have to be fancy.  It needs to be accurate and to the point.   By using the power of video to visually convey your message, you will help your customers increase their understanding of your products and move them closer to wanting and selecting what it is you offer.  Videos can motivate buyers and help to create a competitive advantage for you.

Video agencies will tell you that your ‘explainer video’ should be under 90 seconds. Effective videos can be 30 seconds or 60 seconds in length. Think of how you would describe your products in one minute or less and visualize this in video format.

The format you choose is a matter of personal preference and budget.  One of the most popular and effective ways to explain an idea is with an animated video – like the Dydacomp video you viewed.  These simple videos are developed through a process that begins with messaging.  Once messages are developed, a script is written for a voiceover artist or one of your employees to convey the message in the time allotted.

Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects says that projects that use video have a 50% vs. 30% rate of funding and they are used by companies of all sizes, across all industries and are helping to attract and convert shoppers. This type of video increases conversion rates.  By helping the consumer to fully and quickly understand what you do, you are more likely to get them to take the next step sooner rather than later – and isn’t that what you want?

According to Dr. James McQuivey at Forrester Research, a one-minute video conveys the value of 1.8 million words.  That’s pretty amazing! Studies confirm that we retain more information when more than one of our senses are engaged and we are also more likely to recall more of what we saw and heard. A recent survey by Forbes of C-level business executives indicated that 59% of respondents would rather watch an online video than read text covering the same information on a website.

Some other reasons for using video in your marketing strategy:

  • Increased ROI on site traffic
  • Better rank in Google Search
  • Easily shareable and always on
  • Grabs the attention of your audience
  • Customers prefer video

So how can videos help you grow your retail business?  Short, concise explainer videos are typically more budget friendly and will result in more traffic for your site. Creating one and making it available on your website is an investment that will pay dividends for quite a while.

Happy selling!

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Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dydacomp-Santa-2014-1

Inventory management can be a time-consuming and error-prone process for multi-channel eCommerce businesses.  The quality and accuracy of inventory management is especially critical during the peak holiday selling season, which can be can be the single most important time of the year for these retailers.  According to the NRF, nearly 20% of retail sales happen from Black Friday through Christmas with close to 40% of sales taking place between November 1 and December 15.  Having the right amount of inventory on hand to meet consumer demands can make all the difference in the success of a retailer’s holiday season.

Putting time into some advance planning can better prepare you to meet the unpredictable demands that your business will face, especially this year with only 26 shopping days.  Without proper planning, this peak holiday selling season can create a perfect storm of inventory management challenges.  By recognizing problem areas likely to cause problems, you’ll be better equipped to weather the season. Avoiding stockouts, fulfillment bottlenecks and meeting delivery demands can make the season merry and bright for you.

So how do today’s multichchannel retailers address these challenges?  Here are suggestions based upon our research and our customers’ experiences:

  • Get an Early Start

Synchronize your schedule of marketing campaigns with the availability of products featured in promotions. Actively manage merchandise assortments in conjunction with marketing plans to know what items you’ll need to keep the demand plans balanced. Get areas of your warehouse or store ready to receive the products you’ll need and have a logistics plan to efficiently move these items. If you’re drop shipping, coordinate schedules with drop shippers and/or warehouses that store and distribute your products.

  • Create a Holiday Sales Forecast

Analyze previous holiday sales, consider anticipated consumer trends and, if the research is available, evaluate recommendations in your industry segment.  Determine what worked and what areas are in need of improvement.  Consider orders from your best shoppers and look at their buying behaviors during peak selling periods. Look at impulse or fast moving items that tend to sell out quickly and be sure you can readily restock these items to meet demand.

  • Have Accurate Information

Accurate inventory and sales data enables you to make efficient and effective decisions before the season starts and throughout your busiest holiday times. And don’t forget to manage your customer list along with any mailing lists you may purchase.

  • Automate the Inventory Management Function

An inventory management system allows you to track and control your inventory across all sources. Inventory management software that integrates data across multiple selling channels adjusts your inventory levels when an order is placed or a sale is made. Inventory management software allows you to track your inventory status and will make it easy to manage and fulfill orders from shopping to shipping all year long.

  • Connect with Suppliers

Your vendors have holiday sales goals just like you and are likely to be looking for ways to get their customers to buy from them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or delivery terms which can help you save money and keep you stocked with the items you need.

  • Don’t Overlook the Details

If you ship your own merchandise, in addition to having the right amount of inventory available, you also need to be sure that you are well stocked with other retail holiday essentials including gift wrap and bags, gift cards, bows, special holiday packaging, extra shipping boxes, packaging tape and other supplies.  You can’t move your inventory if you don’t have the packing and shipping supplies you need.  If you work with a drop shipper, drop shipping transfers the pick, pack and ship tasks to the shipper.

  • Think Ahead

Give some thought to how you’ll handle returns and the impact anticipated return levels will have on your inventory levels.

Take the necessary steps now to ensure you have the inventory on hand meet your shoppers’ demands.  For additional tips to help you have a great holiday selling season, access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes”.

Happy & Successful Holiday Selling!

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